17-year – old Asher has always been the impulsive troublemaker, from primary school, all through junior high and high school. It’s hard for him to concentrate in class, and he is compelled by a lot of rage and violence; yet he is also endowed with a considerable amount of charm and street wisdom. While his strict father sees him as a natural successor to the family’s scaffolding business, Asher finds a different masculine role model in his gentle literature teacher Rami and forges a special connection with him. Torn between the two worlds, Asher looks for a chance for a new life and new identity. When a sudden tragedy occurs, he has to take the ultimate test of maturity.
Matan Yair, has been teaching literature for the past nine years mostly to students on probation and from working class backgrounds. He hoped his classes would inspire students to read and love literature but came to realize that the more likely outcome was that high school would be the only time they would read poems, short stories and novels. Yair began to wonder what would remain from his classes and started sketching the outlines. His encounter with a new student named Asher intrigued him immediately. Yair recounts, "I felt, immediately, that he would be a fascinating character because he evoked such strong and varied emotional responses in me. I felt fear in response to his brutality and lack of limits, compassionate warmth because of his difficulties in reading, jealousy because of his unfettered ability to follow his impulses and desires. In spite of all differences, I was also aware that there was something important we had in common: we were both exposed in some way – we didn’t seek to disguise our fundamental characters – and it was obvious we were both paying a certain price for this.
When casting the film it was clear to Yair that he wanted Asher to play his part for himself. "During the audition process, we considered a few other options for the role, as we understood the risks of basing the film on the performance of a non-actor (Asher is in every single scene in the film). But of course, no one could embody or deliver these lines in quite the same way. But I felt that I would be able to guide him towards the right emotional posture. I was pretty confident that he would have no problems expressing the explosive, angry shades, but I suspected that the more tender, nuanced moments would be more difficult for him. I was curious to see if Asher would be able to bring other sides of himself to the role."
"Scaffolding" takes place in the city of Herzliya, a small city north of Tel Aviv where Yair grew up and lived till the age of 27, It is also the place where he works and teaches. The film was shot on location both in the high school where Yair and Asher met and in Asher's real house. " In order to achieve a certain authenticity and to support Asher" says Yair, "it was important to me that he would perform in his natural context – the scenes in his house are really shot in his family house, the school scenes take place in our real school, the scaffolding sites are authentic sites in which he had worked."
Asher has two face two opposing worlds that of his tough father Milo and his sensitive teacher Rami. As Yair notes the contrast between them emerged from the characters’ biographies. "Naturally there is be a difference between a single father who spent time in jail and is running his own scaffolding business, and a childless literature teacher. Incidentally, I see reason and good measure in both Milo and Rami’s aspirations for Asher. Milo knows his son and understands that physical work is a good valve for channeling his energy and aggression and managing his short temper. Naturally, Milo is worried for his son and wants to steer him away from the potentially troublesome path which he himself travelled. At the same time,though, as Rami is going through his own process of soul searching and crisis he recognizes something in Asher and wants to let this flourish, helping Asher to believe in himself and to develop elements in himself that not fully realized."
Scaffolding received the Haggiag Award for best Israeli Feature Film and the Best lead actor award (Asher Lax) at the 2017 Jerusalem Film Festival
The festival jury said they distinguished SCAFFOLDING: "For a film that combines the reality of a group of teenagers and the will of questioning cinema and the role of filmmaking. For its capacity of capturing the tenderness sometimes behind these kids' violence, their capacity for love, their surprising imagination, in a society that places them in a marginal role forever."
The film was produced by Gal Greenspan of Green productions and received the support of the Israel Film Fund, The Polish Film Institute and Gesher Multicultural Film Fund.
World Sales: Jan Naszewski’s New Europe Film Sales.